Heartburn Drugs Tied to Greater Mortality

Heartburn drugs may increase risk of death, according to new research.  Commonly used drugs such as Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid, are known as proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs. PPIs are believed to be overused in the U.S., according to the senior author of the study, Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

PPIs have previously been associated with other health risks, such as fractures, dementia, heart disease, pneumonia, and kidney disease. The new study, using data from U.S. military veterans, determined that new users of PPIs were 25 percent more likely to die during the six-year follow-up period than those taking other acid suppressing drugs, and risk of death increases with the amount of time the medication is taken, as reported by Dr. Al-Aly and his study colleagues in BMJ Open.

Mortality is most likely related to the result of PPI side-effects, which have been shown to hinder the function of lyosomes, cell organs that get rid of waste. PPIs may also speed up cell aging.

Dr. Al-Aly recommends that heartburn or reflux causes, such as obesity, poor diet, or smoking, should be addressed before prescribing PPIs, and that PPIs should be prescribed in the lowest effective dose and only for a short time.

Key Points:

  • 1Heartburn drugs are the reason for deaths happening so quickly and the longer their used, the greater the person is at risk of death.
  • 2Proton pump inhibitors are linked to fractures, memory loss, heart disease, and other harsh side effects.
  • 3Patients who are new to using proton pump inhibitors have an increased death risk depending on how long they’ve been using PPIs.

For new PPI users, death risk rose in tandem with the amount of time the person took the medication.

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